courtesy of whitehouse.gov
President George Bush addresses the 2007 National Medal of Arts
recipients at the White House on Nov. 15, 2007. Honoree Craig Noel can be
seen at the center of the photo (wearing a yellow tie), just to the right of
Biography of Craig Noel
the late Craig Noel's distinguished 70-plus-year career with
The Old Globe, the much-honored
director staged over 225 productions of all styles and periods. His
achievements as a director, educator and visionary were recognized on Nov.
15, 2007, with the award of the 2007 National Medal of Arts at a ceremony in
New Mexico in 1915, Noel came to San Diego as a child. He has been associated
with The Old Globe since its community-theatre inception in 1937 and has
guided the organization through its metamorphosis from a community theatre
highest standards to one of the nation's most successful not-for profit
Noel's most recent world-premiere productions include
Lillian Garrett-Groag's The White Rose and Reuben Gonzalez's The Boiler
Room. He also directed the American
premiere's of Alan Ayckbourn's Mr. A's Amazing Maze Plays and Intimate
Exchanges. Other recent Noel directorial assignments include Wonderful
Tennessee, Shirley Valentine, Travels with My Aunt, and Scotland Road.
Noel made his Globe debut as an actor in 1937. Two
years later he accepted his first directorial assignments, staging four of
the season's seven productions. Noel's contributions to San Diego and to the
nation are legion. He has enriched the quality of life in San Diego through
visionary dreams that became reality. He has enriched the larger community
through his support and encouragement of playwrights, actors and theatre
artists and through the nurturing of an entire generation of citizens who
have become today's theatre-goers and arts supporters.
Noel created an audience for new works through his early
'60s spring seasons at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, where he
introduced the works of Beckett, Ionesco, Anouilh, Pirandello, Brecht, Behan,
Giraudoux and Albee to San Diegans. Their response was so enthusiastic that
Noel instituted seasons of such works at the Falstaff Tavern, which was
later remodeled and renamed the Cassius Carter Centre Stage (1969).
Among Noel's other innovations are Globe
Educational Tours and the Play Discovery Program, which began in 1974. In
association with San Diego State University, Noel established the
world-renowned Shakespeare Festival at the Globe in 1949. He guided the
theatre's transformation to professional status in 1959, establishing it as
the oldest continuing, professional not-for-profit theatre in California.
Soon after the original Old Globe was destroyed by arson
in 1978, Noel conceived the idea for the building an outdoor festival
theatre in the wooded canyon adjacent to the theatre complex. The original
Festival Stage was destroyed by fire in 1984. It was rebuilt and named the
Lowell Davies Festival Theatre in 1985.
To fulfill his long-held dream of a theatre that
would extend across the border to enrich artists and audiences of Southern
California's two neighboring cultures, Noel instituted the Globe's bilingual
theatre component, Teatro Meta, in 1983. Teatro Meta administers an
award-winning, bilingual in-schools theatre program.
Noel founded the California Theatre
Council and a former vice president of the California Confederation of the
Arts. His numerous honors encompass the inclusion by The San Diego
Union-Tribune in a list of 25 persons who shaped the city's history; the
Governor's Award for the Arts; University of Arizona Alumni Association's
Outstanding Citizen for his contribution to their fine arts department; San
Diego State University's Outstanding Alumnus; honorary Doctorate of Humane
Letters, University of San Diego; San Diego's Living Treasure Award;
Conservator of American Arts Award from American Conservatory Theatre; the
San Diego Press Club Headliner Award; the San Diego Gentleman of Distinction
Award; and a combined tribute from the Public Arts Advisory Council and the
San Diego County Board of Supervisors.
In November 2007, Noel was awarded the
prestigious 2007 National Medal of Arts by U.S. Pres. George Bush in a
ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C. The medal, chosen by the
National Endowment for the Arts, is the highest honor given to artists and
arts patrons by the U.S. government.
Noel's contributions to the Old Globe, his support
of other San Diego theaters and his efforts to put San Diego theater on the
national map led the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle in 2002 to rename
their annual awards for theatrical excellence in his honor.
Noel unofficially retired from day-to-day operations in the mid-2000s but
continued to serve as an advisor to the Globe on programming issues, including the resurrection of the Summer Shakespeare Festival in 2004.
After a prolonged illness, Noel passed away at his Mission Hills home on
April 3, 2010. He was 94.